File photo shows a ballistic missile being launched from an undisclosed location in Iran. Image Credit: REUTERS

Cairo: A Chinese businessman, designated by the US for supporting manufacture of weapons of mass destruction, is involved in financing Iran’s missile programme from Mexico, a media report has claimed.

In 2016, the US froze the assets of Cheng Mingfu residing in Mexico and placed him on the list of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Department of the Treasury, allegedly for supporting the WMD production.

He has purportedly conducted dubious transactions from Mexico for Iran, the news portal Mexicanist said, citing US reports.

Investigations by the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a Treasury Department office, tracked Cheng in a residential area of the Mexican city of Leon, from where he is believed to have financed Iran’s suspected arms programme.

Questionable transactions

Confidential reports available to FinCEN from banks and financial institutions have provided details about Cheng’s financial dealings. One report notes that the New York branch of the UK’s Standard Chartered Bank had identified 316 questionable transactions between January 11, 2010, and March 26, 2015, for $13.25 million sent or received by the 40-year-old businessman and companies with which he has business links.

He allegedly used an account at Intercam Casa de Bolsa to send money from Mexico, and another account at the Bank of China in New York for those deals, Mexcanist reported.

The FinCEN report claims that Cheng and the companies with which he is connected buy inputs for missile production, but mislead suppliers about the actual purpose.

The inputs end up at an Iranian firm, identified as Navid Composite Material Company, which has been on the OFAX list since 2013 over involvement in the production of arms components.

Cheng has allegedly negotiated agreements to provide financial, material, and technological resources to Navid.

US investigators have reached indications that the suspected companies acquired inputs for civil purposes that may have military applications, the portal reported.

The US administration of Donald Trump has recently stepped up imposing sanctions against entities and individuals suspected of links to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes amid mounting tensions between Washington and Tehran.